Two well-known Cuban activists who were arrested recently in Havana, along with more than 20 oppositionists, might be charged with “contempt and dispersion of false news,” sources in the domestic opposition said.
Of the 27 dissidents arrested between Wednesday and Thursday, two remain in custody: Antonio González Rodiles, director of the project “State of SATS,” and the independent lawyer Yaremis Flores, who advises human rights groups and peaceful oppositionists.
Rodiles and Flores face prison and the possibility of being tried without judicial guarantees, said former political prisoner Angel Moya, who was detained on Thursday and released hours later, after being threatened.
“These repressive acts are one more example of the moral decay of the Cuban government,” Moya said.
The mass arrests began on Wednesday afternoon. That day, a group of activists gathered outside the State Security offices known as Section 21, in the Havana municipality of Marianao. The group was there to inquire about Flores’ condition and to demand his immediate release.
Flores had been intercepted by surprise by agents of the political police. She was taken to the police center known as “100 and Aldabó,” because it is at the intersection of those two streets.
On Wednesday, at least 11 activists were detained with a display of police brutality. Sixteen other activists and bloggers, among them Yoani Sánchez, were arrested the following day when they gathered outside a police precinct house in Havana to inquire about their colleagues’ status.
Sánchez’s detention was caught on video by a reporter for the independent news agency Hablemos Press. The video shows several agents of the State Security surrounding Sánchez and other activists.
One of the agents orders Sánchez to “shut up.” He does so with a threatening and abusive attitude, to the point that he has be calmed down by other policemen so he won’t strike Sánchez.
Minutes later, the same man strikes writer and blogger Angel Santiesteban on the head, as the dissident is pushed into a police car.
The wave of detentions provoked criticism inside and outside the island. In Havana, Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, spokesman for the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), asked the authorities to abandon the policy of zero tolerance and harassment they use to silence the voices of opposition.
“The Cuban government must put an end to these actions and revert the negative tendency to increase the political repression that has been manifested in recent years through short-term detention and jail sentences,” Sánchez said.
In Miami, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and exile groups such as the Cuban Democratic Directorate strongly condemned the abuse.
Rodiles and Flores have not been permitted to speak with their relatives. The authorities have not offered any information about their legal situation.
Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament in 2010, described the arrests as political vengeance. He said that Rodiles and Flores face the possibility of a summary trial because of their role in the issuance of a letter on individual freedoms. The letter asks the government of Raúl Castro to ratify the United Nations accords of 2008 on political and civil rights.
“We must continue to fight this battle,” Fariñas said. “That is why I call on all the international organizations to understand that Rodiles and Flores are prisoners of conscience. As such, we have to denounce this situation.”